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Inventory Maintenance

In order to perform an inventory of Aleph catalog items, a campus should discuss its plans with OLS before starting work on such a project. (This is to ensure that local campuses do not inadvertently create extra work for themselves.)

OLS has pre-inventory reporting to help your library plan a larger (e.g., 1,000+ items) inventory project. If you think this reporting would be helpful, please contact OLS.

When you're finished planning your inventory project, open a work order with the CUNY Service Desk. It should be specific about what you need done, i.e., which collections or call number ranges do you want to receive? what material types should be included? which inventory option do you prefer?

There are three options for inventory:

  1. The Shelf List report (Item-05) provides a campus with a list of items in Aleph based on a range of call numbers. The call number ranges must be selected by the campus. There is a 5,000 record limit on these call number ranges.

    Report options include a selection of sublibrary, collection, item status, and item process status. Sort options are by only by call number and the output format is fixed.

    This out of the box Aleph report will only include one specific call number type at a time as it is entered into Aleph.

  2. The Shelf Reading Report (Item-04) processes a list of barcodes for a given range of call numbers. The file must include all items in the given range. Any item not included will automatically be considered missing, even if it is included in a different file.

    The list of 14-digit barcodes must be supplied in a plaintext file that's saved as xx_inv_yyyy-zzzz (all lowercase - no spaces nor punctuation), where:
    xx = 2-letter campus code
    yyyy = start LC call number
    zzzz = end LC call number

    Please do not include periods in the file name. Also, there is a 5,000 record limit on these call number ranges.

    An example of such an input file is qb_inv_a-ct, where "qb" stands for Queensborough Community College and "a-ct" is the desired LC call number range, A to CT.

    Report options include a selection of sublibrary, collection, item status, and item process status. Sort options are by call number, barcode, sub-library, OR collection.

    This out of the box Aleph report will only include one specific call number type at a time as it is entered into Aleph.

    Pro-Tip: Before scanning barcodes with this method have staff work on putting books in order on the shelves and return mis-shelved items. Items mis-shelved in one section scanned later in your work will show up as missing less often in the earlier part of your scanning.

  3. A custom item listing in Excel offers the greatest flexibility in terms of the MARC field data to be displayed. It will include circulation count details. The report can be sorted by a variety of fields including by sub-library, collection, title, or call number order, which will be listed alphanumerically. This is the only method that will include items without a Call Number, as well as all call number types in the same listing.

Not sure what you need?

If you want more information about your inventory options, you can open a general work order asking OLS to clarify the details and answer your questions about the three options available to you.

Library planning discussion should include whether it is more productive to divide up your collection inventory by Item Status, collection code, Reserves vs regular stacks, call number cutter range(s), or types of materials.

Any Additional Recommendations?

It is recommended that a library fully complete an inventory using at least one of the above three methods on a very small subset of their collection. Testing and comparing two different methods is a legitimate approach. Staff will gain more experience with that method, uncover unforeseen issues / problems, and clarify their own workflows before investing too much time into the project.

Also, once you start checking shelves and processing files, you want to keep the turn around time as short as possible for greater accuracy. This includes marking items with an IPS for those that are missing. Check any shelf, and then wait a month. What are the odds that someone will add books to OR take books away from that shelf? Change is constant so speed effects accuracy.